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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Colonial Flower Gardens

Although William Blake lived in England, his poem 'To Spring' would have resonated with Colonials after a long harsh winter. Bleak gray days and cold nights, snow storms and ice, sickness, fever, and starvation plagued many Colonials.

So when the warmer breezes arrived, and buds were seen on the trees, there is no doubt people rejoiced.
What were Colonial gardens like? What kinds of flowers grew in them? Let's go back in time and walk through one.

We enter a gate to a brickbat path. Raised beds of line the walkway. Bumble and honey bees hover over flowers, their legs and bodies dusty with pollen as they dart from blossom to blossom.

We walk beneath an arbor covered in trumpet honeysuckle and wisteria. Monarch butterflies flit among the drooping petals. Farther on, dogwood shades a bed of Sweet William.

Earlier in the beginning of spring, narcissus, primrose, and crocus, sprouted. Now the gallica roses are in bloom, the Apothecary rose with its delicate magenta stripes upon its petals, a watercolor of white and pink. Our owner is envious of Mr. Jefferson's garden, and hopes to plant the same Jasminum officinale or Poet's Jasmine in his garden. For when the sun begins to descend, this flower fills the evening air with such  romantic fragrance the ladies will no doubt swoon taking it in.
Added to the list of flowers we come upon gilliflowers, borders of pinks and carnations, mignonettes, French marigolds, and hollyhocks. Monarch and swallowtail butterflies, cabbage and skipper moths flutter among the blooms. In nearby fields, wild blue bachelor buttons and snowy Queen Anne's Lace bask under the sun.
We come to the edge of the garden close to the house and sit down along a shady hedge of boxwood for a cup of cold sweetened tea, cucumber sandwiches, and cake.

Don't forget your fan!
 
To Springby William Blake
(1757-1827)

 
O Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro' the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!


The hills tell each other, and the list'ning
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turnèd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime.

Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee. 


Links about Colonial Gardens:

 http://www.history.org/history/cwland/gardensmap.cfm

 http://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/company-gardeners-flower-diaries-jefferson-skipwith-and-faris

 http://www.williamsburgbotanicalgarden.org/wordpress/

What flowers will you be growing in your garden this year that are among the list of flowers in this post?  

In my novels, I love to include flora and fauna in my descriptive narrative. And my heroines, who love them, must have a favorite, like Darcy in Beside Two Rivers who loves wild Queen Anne's Lace, and Sarah in Beyond the Valley who adores blue globe thistle.
Posted by author Rita Gerlach
http://ritagerlach.blogspot.com

4 comments:

  1. To Spring: I love the bottom picture of the lady and the posies high on the wall ~ my very favorite that lasts so long when dried with a delicate fragrance is Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea). I have had some in a white enamel pitcher for years. Wisteria is what I would like to begin by our wrap-around porch. The big, fat bumblebees could care less around you when they have these delicacies! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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  2. Thank you for this promise of spring, Rita. I love the blue hydrangeas and the gardenias I grow. But I enjoy so many of the beautiful blooms that appear this time of year.

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  3. Having the world's largest gangrene thumb, I don't grow flowers successfully. But I love the Victorian meanings of flowers and use them in my talks with women.

    Nemophila is the flower of forgiveness and forget-me-nots are the symbol of pure love. When I speak on forgiveness or love, I furnish small packets of the appropriate flower seed for the attendees.

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  4. I love this! Now I know just what to plant in the memory garden I am planning for my daughter, Amy :) Thank you, Rita!!!

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